Leonor Espinosa Wins the 2017 Basque Culinary World Prize : New Worlder

Just announced yesterday, Colombian chef Leonor Espinosa has been named the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize. The Basque World Culinary Prize is result of a partnership between Basque Government and the Basque Culinary Center, an organization devoted higher education, research, innovation and promotion of gastronomy and nutrition. A highly prestigious award, the prize recognizes a chef who actively demonstrates how gastronomy can be a transforming force for innovation, education, the environment, social and economic development, and well-being.

The leading lady of Colombian cuisine for many years, Bogotana chef Leonor Espinosa is known for dishes that celebrate indigenous cooking styles and the richness of Colombian ingredients. Her restaurant, Leo Cocina y Cava, is based on studies and culinary research of different ecosystems across Colombia and is widely recognized as one of the country’s top restaurants.

In addition to Leo Cocina y Cava, Espinosa has gathered international respect for her work with Funleo Foundation, run with her daughter Laura, who is also the restaurant’s sommelier. An organization dedicated to supporting rural development and the spread of gastronomic knowledge, the Colombian chef founded Funleo in 2008. Since its beginnings, Funleo has promoted education surrounding ancestral traditions regarding food in Afro-Colombian communities and gathered backing for a Comprehensive Gastronomy Centre in Chocó. At its core, Funleo pushes Colombia’s rich gastronomy and diversity as an alternative industry to drug trafficking. The hope is that, through Funleo Esipinosa and others encourage communities to take responsibility for utilizing their biological and cultural resources into tools for socio-economic development.

Following the announcement of the 2017 Basque Culinary World Prize, chefs will continue to gather for the next few days for the Basque Culinary Center international symposium held in Xochimilco, Mexico, within Mexico City. The symposium, in partnership with Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, will pose discussions on gastronomy and the environment and challenges posed by the relationship of human beings and other species, and surrounding ecosystems.

This was Espinosa’s second consecutive year being nominated for the prize. Last year’s Basque Culinary World Prize was awarded to Venezuela’s Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe.